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Heather MacDonald

Heather MacDonald, a third-year distance education master's of Nursing student at Memorial, was awarded the 2004 Picker Institute Award for her outstanding leadership in promoting patient and family centered care in February. Ms. MacDonald, a critical care clinical nurse specialist living and working in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the first Canadian and the first nurse to receive this recognition. The award is named after Harvey Picker of Boston, founder of the Picker Institute which promotes research on improving patient and family-centered care experience in healthcare systems. The award recipient is judged on their leadership and innovation in pursuing excellence in promoting patient/family centered care and acting as a catalyst for change that puts patients and families at the forefront of the health care system.

Ms. MacDonald said the School of Nursing at Memorial provided her with support that has allowed her to pursue this work, based on her academic program. She was invited to speak on adult critical care at the Institute of Family Centered Care Conference in San Francisco in February and also in San Diego for the Picker Institute in August.

"I feel privileged to receive this recognition, especially since I am the first nurse to receive the Picker Award and it certainly validates our role in healthcare reform," she said.

Ms. MacDonald, who works as the clinical nurse specialist for the Adult Critical Care Unit at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, has created and enacted a family liaison support role for families experiencing a heath illness transition within the Intensive Care Unit. She is chair and founder of the Critical Care Patient/Family Support Program, facilitator for companioning donor families workshops, and member of both the District Nursing Advisor Council and site-based Nursing Professional Practice Council. She has presented nationally on patient/family centered care and is a strong advocate for implementing patient/family centered care philosophy within the critical care environment.